Churches and Religious-based Organizations Impacted by Nondiscrimination Ordinances

The nondiscrimination ordinances under consideration in various locations in Kansas have profound effects upon churches and the way they operate. More specifically, under category of public accommodation, any place that opens its facilities to the public would be required to comply with the proposed changes to the ordinances.

In both Hutchinson and Salina the ordinance purports to include an exemption, however the exemption applies only if a church does not use its facilities for public events. Both Salina and Hutchinson have published the following:

Religious based groups, non-profit institutions controlled by religious associations or societies and non-profit private clubs that are not open to the public are exempt from the requirements of {existing ordinances} now and would continue to be exempt should the proposed amendment become law. There is an exception to this exemption, if any of these groups open their services to the general public.

 For example, if a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party. If the church only rents the building to their parishioners, they can continue to do so.

There are many examples from across the nation of how these ordinances have impacted churches and the ability for those churches to maintain control of their facilities in accordance with their institutional religious views.

  • In New Jersey, the Ocean Grove Camp meeting association which is a religious organization was sued under the auspices of nondiscrimination rules when because of religious reasons; they declined to allow the use of one of its places of worship for the purpose of a civil union ceremony.
  • In New York a court found that a private Jewish university – due to the enactment of a sexual-orientation nondiscrimination law – may no longer be allowed to prohibit, as required by its religious tenets, same-sex couples from living together in university housing.
  • When faced with new nondiscrimination laws that would have revoked their license unless they begin granting adoptions to same-sex couples, Catholic Charities of Boston Adoption Services chose to cease operations rather than be forced to comply with a law that violated their religious tenets.
  • A District of Colombia court found that a nondiscrimination law requires a private, religiously affiliated university to give tangible benefits to a proposed student organization that engages in homosexual advocacy.

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